85-year-old grandmother uses friend's chocolate cake recipe for Sweet Success contest
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Jenny Burgess earned her baking badge of honor while raising four children. The 85-year-old Victoria resident likes getting in the kitchen to bring joy to others.
She doesn't cook that much anymore because of knee replacement surgery and the Homewood Residence of Victoria provides the meals.
Although she makes a legendary pumpkin pie, she chose instead to enter the baking contest using her deceased friend's chocolate mocha cake recipe to continue her legacy.
"I don't expect to win. But it allows me to be close to her," she said about her friend Gerrie Lewis-Toellner.
Burgess said the other contestants had treats much more elaborate than her chocolate Bundt. The Ashland, Ky., native made three cakes, two for sampling and one to auction.
Burgess was one of 15 entries in the first Sweet Success contest Saturday afternoon. The contest had a mix of students, culinary chefs and bakeries vying for a chance to earn bragging rights.
A group of appointed judges made their marks, and the public helped to choose the winner.
Proceeds from the contest benefit the Victoria Business Education Coalition for mentoring labs, which has 200 children and 190 mentors who help them get back on track in school.
"We just want to bring everyone together to help the kids," said Lanell Mantey, the event's executive director.
Throughout the Old Victoria High School cafeteria, people licked their fingers, closed their eyes, and lost their words during a moment of bliss. The "mmm" sound said it all.
"I'm so glad I didn't eat lunch," said Pamela Cuellar who impressed with all the entries.
Her 4-year-old daughter, Ava Cuellar, said, "They're yummy." A spot of chocolate frosting was still on her chin.
Members of the Victoria County 4-H Club created a chocolate fantasy cake filled with frosting between each layer and a hint of white chocolate.
They learned about the recipe from the Southern Living magazine, but they made some revisions to the recipe.
"We made it to our liking," said Shelbie VanBeveren.
Burgess didn't change her friend's beloved recipe of chocolate cake mix, sour cream and Kahlua.
The grandmother of three never said Toellner never had the chance to try a sample. But other Homewood residents certainly enjoy her delectable delights during their mix and mingle sessions.
"I gain a couple of pounds just walking by her table," said Dawn Schendel, the home's life enrichment coordinator.
Although she understood the premise of the contest, she said the moist baked goods just can't be contained in a small cup.
Burgess was flattered to be chosen to represent others at the Victoria contest. "I'd come back, if they ask me to," she said. "Next time, I'll bring napkins."